The Secret to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's Marriage

"We're really lucky because we know how rare it is."
Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres attend GENERAL PUBLIC x RH Celebration in 2018
Photo: Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images
brittany barber headshot
Brittany Barber
brittany barber headshot
Brittany Barber
The Knot Contributor
  • From top movie picks to celebrity scoops and travel advice, Brittany writes on a wide range of topics for The Knot.
  • While Brittany is a contributing writer for The Knot Worldwide, she also provides shopping content for publications like BuzzFeed, CTV and The National Post.
  • Brittany has a Bachelor of Arts in media and communications studies, along with minors in creative writing, theater studies and music performance....
Updated Jan 30, 2024

Having recently celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi share one of the longest marriages when it comes to famous couples in the entertainment industry. Their love story dates back to 2001 when they met at a Rock the Vote concert, marking the start of a connection that would last for years to come. Throughout their relationship, DeGeneres and de Rossi have celebrated numerous anniversaries and personal milestones, all while navigating the challenges of life in the public eye.

Despite those challenges, they've consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to each other, often expressing gratitude for their partnership and the life they have built together. "The truth is, and this is corny, I fall more in love with Portia all the time," DeGeneres wrote in a 2014 essay for People. "I really do. ... She's so funny, really smart, talented and kind. I love her so much it kills me. What amazes me is that it never is boring. I make her laugh, but she really makes me laugh. It's what anyone experiences when you find that person that gets you, wants to take care of you, wants the best for you. We're really lucky because we know how rare it is."

Here's what we know about their journey together so far.

  • Who is Ellen DeGeneres' wife? She's married to Portia de Rossi.
  • When did Portia and Ellen start dating? In 2004.
  • How long has Ellen DeGeneres been married? She's been married to Portia de Rossi for 15 years.
  • When did Portia come out? In 2005, when she opened up to the media about her sexuality.

    Who is Ellen DeGeneres' Wife?

    Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi at People's Choice Awards 2017
    Photo: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

    Portia de Rossi, born Amanda Lee Rogers, is an Australian-American actress best known for her roles on Ally McBeal and Arrested Development. According to a 2005 interview with The Advocate, she legally changed her name to Portia at 15, a name inspired by William Shakespeare's character in The Merchant of Venice.

    On changing her last name she explained, "De Rossi because I was Australian and I thought that an exotic Italian name would somehow suit me more than Amanda Rogers. When you live in Australia, Europe is so far away and so fascinating, so stylish and cultured and sophisticated." In 2010, she legally changed her name to Portia Lee James DeGeneres, but continues to use Portia de Rossi professionally.

    Off-screen, de Rossi is an advocate for numerous social causes, including Locks of Love, FXB International, Alley Cat Allies and The Gentle Barn. In the late '90s, she was married to filmmaker Mel Metcalfe for three years. She eventually dated director Francesca Gregorini, but was never open about the relationship because she wasn't comfortable being out publicly. They broke up when de Rossi got together with DeGeneres in 2004.

    How Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi Met

    Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi at VH1 Big 2004
    Photo: Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images

    DeGeneres and de Rossi met for the first time at a 2001 Rock the Vote concert. Despite an immediate attraction, their romance took time to blossom. De Rossi had concerns about coming out publicly during a time that was not always supportive of openly gay individuals, so they didn't become romantically involved right away.

    "[I knew she was the one for me] when I first laid eyes on her," de Rossi said in a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey. "But it took me three years to actually tell her how I felt about her because I was on Ally McBeal at the time and I was not living as an openly gay person. I was closeted and very, very afraid that if I talked about being gay, it would be the end of my career. So, I wasn't about to date the most famous lesbian in the world."

    Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's Relationship Timeline

    Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi at The Unveiling Of RH San Francisco
    Photo: Kelly Sullivan / Getty Images

    2001: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi first meet

    DeGeneres and de Rossi met for the first time at a Rock the Vote concert.

    December 2004: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi start dating

    DeGeneres and de Rossi officially started dating when they ran into one another in 2004. They were both in long-term relationships at the time, but chose to end things with them to see one another.

    "I ran into Ellen at a photo shoot about a year ago and she took my breath away," de Rossi told The Advocate in 2005. "That had never happened to me in my life, where I saw somebody and [experienced] all of those things you hear about in songs and read about in poetry. My knees were weak. It was amazing. And it was very hard for me to get her out of my mind after that."

    January 2005: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi make first public appearance as a couple

    Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres at HBO Golden Globe Awards Party
    Photo: Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images

    The couple made their relationship public when they attended a Golden Globe Awards afterparty together. "It was a big deal for her to be seen with me," DeGeneres told People. "The very first time we were photographed together was when I joined her at the Golden Globes afterparty. And that's when everyone knew that we were together."

    May 2008: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi announce their engagement

    The day after the California Supreme Court overturned the ban on gay marriage, DeGeneres announced her engagement to de Rossi on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The pair had been planning a commitment ceremony to celebrate their relationship, but when the ban was lifted the couple decided to make their union legally binding.

    "Ellen was going to surprise me with a commitment ceremony at a joint birthday party that we were going to have," de Rossi said on The Oprah Show. "So we made the date of August the 16th, and then during that time, gay marriage became legal in California. So we were about to have this ceremony and then, all of a sudden, it was like a gift that it was then legal."

    August 2008: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi marry at home

    According to People, DeGeneres and de Rossi were married on August 16, 2008. They hosted an intimate ceremony at their home in Los Angeles with just 19 guests. The couple both wore custom Zac Posen designs and exchanged rings by Neil Lane.

    August 2018: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary

    On their 10th wedding anniversary, DeGeneres posted a video from their wedding to her Instagram account.

    April 2020: The couple donate $1 million to COVID-19 relief efforts

    In April 2020, DeGeneres and de Rossi donated $1 million to the All-In Challenge, an initiative that raised funds for non-profit organizations that helped support communities during the coronavirus crisis. According to People, they were nominated to do so by Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

    February 2023: Ellen DeGeneres reveals she and Portia de Rossi renewed their vows

    In February 2023, DeGeneres posted a sweet snippet of de Rossi surprising her with a vow renewal ceremony on what was just meant to be de Rossi's birthday party. De Rossi even wore her wedding dress. You can watch the full video on YouTube.

    August 2023: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi celebrate 15 years of marriage

    DeGeneres took to Instagram and shared a celebratory anniversary photo of the couple. She paired it with a caption that says: "To my wife of 15 years- I fall more in love with you every day. My life is blessed because you're in it. Happy anniversary."

    The couple's secret to a successful marriage

    In a 2016 interview with People, DeGeneres shared her secret to a successful marriage, explaining that the couple prioritize each other over their careers and constantly remind each other of how lucky they are. "Portia and I constantly say to each other, 'We are so lucky.' Sometimes it's lying in bed at night before I go to sleep, and I just say thank you to whatever, whoever is out there," she said. "I've gotten to a place where I really am just settled. Really. I know that I'm not going anywhere. She's not going anywhere."

    In a 2021 interview with People, DeGeneres and de Rossi elaborate more on their outlook on love. "The more you love something, the more you get back," said DeGeneres. "I've been in a lot of different relationships, and you really can have all these qualities that seem like they're right, but you can't force it."

    "Love is everything," De Rossi added. "Because there's nothing in the world that would be enjoyable without it. And real love never stays stagnant. It never stays the same. It's always changing and growing. You just have to kind of go with it."

    Up Next
    • Beckhams wedding reception cake cutting with a sword; Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli wedding day; Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra wedding
      25 Celebrity Weddings That Shaped How We Celebrate Marriage